What is the legality of prostitution in Haiti?
In Haiti, prostitution is considered illegal, but the practice remains widespread and often operates openly. The Haitian government does not enforce laws against prostitution, and as a result, the trade has become a significant part of the country’s economy. Although selling sex is illegal, there are no laws prohibiting the purchase of sex, which further complicates the issue.
What are the laws and penalties surrounding prostitution in Haiti?
Prostitution in Haiti is governed by Article 281 of the Haitian Penal Code, which criminalizes the act of engaging in sexual activities for financial gain. Penalties for engaging in prostitution include imprisonment and fines. However, these laws are rarely enforced, and penalties are often not imposed on offenders. The following are some of the legal provisions related to prostitution in Haiti:
- Article 281 – Prohibits the act of engaging in sexual activities for financial gain.
- Article 282 – Prohibits the act of facilitating or profiting from the prostitution of others.
- Article 283 – Criminalizes the act of running a brothel or allowing one’s property to be used for prostitution.
- Article 284 – Prohibits the act of advertising or promoting prostitution.
Despite these legal provisions, enforcement remains weak, and prostitution continues to thrive in Haiti.
How is prostitution referred to locally in Haiti?
In Haiti, prostitution is often referred to as kase kay or breaking the house. This term is used to describe the act of engaging in sexual activities for money. Prostitution in Haiti is often practiced in various settings, including brothels, bars, and on the streets. Many individuals involved in prostitution in Haiti are referred to as restaveks, which translates to stay with in Haitian Creole. These individuals, often young women and girls, are sent to live with wealthier families in exchange for domestic work and are frequently subjected to sexual exploitation.
What is the history of prostitution in Haiti?
Prostitution in Haiti has a long and complex history, with the practice being intertwined with the country’s social, economic, and political development. During the colonial era, prostitution was widespread, and enslaved women were often sexually exploited by their owners. Following Haiti’s independence in 1804, the practice of prostitution continued, with many women engaging in the trade due to limited economic opportunities.
In the 20th century, the United States occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934 contributed to the growth of the prostitution industry. During this period, the Haitian government attempted to regulate the trade, with licensed brothels operating in certain areas. However, these efforts were largely unsuccessful, and prostitution continued to flourish.
Today, the issue of prostitution in Haiti is further exacerbated by factors such as poverty, lack of education, and the aftermath of natural disasters such as the 2010 earthquake, which left many women and girls vulnerable to exploitation.
As mentioned earlier, the Haitian government has established laws prohibiting prostitution, but enforcement remains weak. There are limited government efforts to combat human trafficking, which is closely linked to prostitution. In 2014, Haiti enacted the Law on the Suppression of Trafficking in Persons, which criminalizes all forms of human trafficking, including sex trafficking.
However, despite these legal provisions, there is a lack of resources and commitment to effectively address the issue of prostitution and human trafficking in Haiti. Government corruption and complicity in trafficking crimes also hinder efforts to combat these issues. International organizations, such as the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the U.S. Department of State, have urged the Haitian government to strengthen its efforts in addressing prostitution and human trafficking.